Elysium

I never found Elysium, did you?
Behind my house there’s just a little patch
Of trees. An easement with a trickling stream
That fills with leaves of red and leaves of gold
This time of year. The wind is blowing hard
Against the branches, slowly stripping bare
The last remaining vestiges of life,
At least that life which stretches toward the sun.
Were we misled? Did we mislead ourselves?
The grass is getting long before the snow.
I think I’ll only cut it one more time.
Then, if there’s time, I’ll build a little bench
Beneath the patch of trees, beside the stream,
And watch it through the winter, from my house.

Scars (for Nora Sawyer)

Am I too late to note the past which passed
Without the notice of a poet’s pen?
What then would you or youth portray, unmasked
In these–these silent pictures now? What then
Will lace avail if what it frames is scarred?
Am I not clear? What words suffice to mark
The pale perfection of the page unmarred
By life? What skin escapes the Poet’s art?
In time the soundless scrawls of meaning fade.
Nepenthe left unquaffed evaporates.
In time the time when beauty was portrayed
As vanity like mist will dissipate.
Beneath your skin your pulse remains as strong
As when it first began its steady song.

On Seeing a Picture of Avril Lavigne That Brought to Mind Poe’s Lenore

Don’t stare too long; the shadows ’round her eyes
Absorb your soul. Don’t linger on her mouth,
The petals of a pout. Don’t sympathize
With milk; her skin is milk. Don’t be devout.
Look once and note forever how her hair
Asserts itself forever, like a stroke
Of paint that’s brushed by one who doesn’t care
If art is beauty or some cosmic joke.
Take all the time you need when she is gone
To press your head against some velvet thought–
Some thought divined, forever lingered on,
Rejected and embraced, escaped and caught.
Her youth is not the youth you meant to find
Upon the edges of your mortal mind.